Interesting article but the author fails to mention Microsoft as being a big (if not the biggest) player in this game. This happens only too often in my opinion.
I understand many people don't consider Microsoft to be 'Web 2.0'. While quite a few of Microsoft's products might not be (yet), some of them definately are!
What Yahoo and Google are trying to do is nothing more than what Microsoft has been developing for a long time already with Mail, Live Spaces, and Messenger. You have a user's profile and create services that pull in more of that user's data.
Millions of people have a Hotmail, MSN or Windows Live ID. They use this mostly for email or chatting over Live Messenger. The interesting bit about Live messenger is that it holds the Social Graph. And a nice graph too as contacts are categorized (colleagues, frieds, family, other). This categorization potentially allows for a much richer social network than what we see today. Think of Facebook and Linked in all in one.
Live Spaces is the place where users add their data and create their public facing internet presence. It has more of the components than most of the big social networks players:
- pictures (increasing competition)
Granted, some of these components trail some of the competition's products but in some areas Microsoft is leading too.
Interestingly, Microsoft isn't doing bad either. The number of Live ID's is amazing as is the number of Live Spaces. And with increased investments in this space like on the social newsfeed and the picture sharing functionality, Microsoft will be a player Google, Yahoo and others will need to consider regardless of whether Microsoft will get the Web 2.0 label.